The Secret School Extension Activity
- Grades: 3–5, 6–8
About this book
1. Draw a scaled map of the town of Elk Valley, Colorado based on descriptions in the book. Include the school and the farms of the Bidsons', the Kohls' and the Bixlers'. Now take a survey of the students in your class and find out how far they travel to get to school. Make a scaled map of your town, with your school, and the houses of your classmates. Compare the two maps. Do you live closer to or farther from school than the children of the Secret School?
Have your students work in groups to draw the map of Elk Valley and have discussions about why the maps might have been interpreted differently. When discussing the students mode of transport to school, discuss what changes have occurred in American towns, cities, and communities to bring about these differences between the student's school experiences compared to the student's at the Secret School. This would be a good opportunity to delve deeper into the time period. Groups could investigate different topics like transportation, education, government, or rights for men and women. Students could report back to the class orally or do a written report.
2. Imagine your local school board was having a "real quiet" meeting to decide whether or not to close your school. What would you do to get the word out? What methods are available to you today that the children of 1925 didn't have?
Divide your class into groups and have the different groups investigate communication in 1925: telephones, telegrams, newspapers, radio, and letters. Students can compare their research to the methods of communication today and discuss how these changes have altered the way people live.
3. Would you like to go to a one-room school with mixed ages? Make a list of the advantages and disadvantages of such a school.
This would be a good opportunity for a written report at the end comparing andcontrasting the different schools: one room vs. the larger schools that publiceducation offers today; students could also do opinion pieces on which schoolmight make a better educational model.